Bullies can work in your favor

November 20, 2001 9:44 AM
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The real college basketball season doesn’t begin until after New Year’s when conference play starts. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t money to be made.

Tournament play offers some excellent opportunities.Take, for example something called the Guardian Classic, which featured several mismatches that produced wins at the ticket window.

Missouri, Alabama and Memphis each covered the spread as favorites of 20 points or more last Tuesday. The next night, Iowa joined Memphis and Missouri in the W column against the spread as favorites of 19 points or more.

Bottom line: Why take a tough game. Set the ego aside and just win. Don’t brag to your buddy about how you picked Air Force over Yale or East Carolina to upset Rutgers.

The haves love to play have-nots early in the season to bulk up on victories. Clemson, Syracuse and Georgetown are among teams that have lived off scheduling patsies and entering conference play with 10-0, 11-1 marks.

And, they cover. Bullies love to beat up on their prey. Checkthe overnight lines each night and look for the mismatches. The odds over covering are definitely in your favor. Wait until conference season before attacking the tough games.

Stepping on heels

Hampton, last year’s MEAC champ, went into Chapel Hill hoping not to lose too badly to North Carolina. Not only did the Pirates not get embarrassed, they won the game.

The Tar Heels lost a season opener for just the second time in 73 years, 77-69. UNC set a school record by taking 34 shots from 3-point land. Most of those, obviously missed.

Hampton won ugly, shooting in the mid 30s from the field. With Julius Peppers and Ronald Curry devoting their season to just football, this could be the year ACC teams can beat up on the Heels.

Upsetting week

Amendment to taking heavy favorites: Kentucky, USC and St. Joseph’s all lost on the same night. The North Carolina loss occurred the next night.

Tournament play continues all across the country this week. Here are some TV games we can watch for free this week.

Tuesday: Championship round of Maui Invitational (2 games).

Wednesday: Preaseason NIT (2 games). Maui final, Great Alaska Shootout (Indiana vs. Alaska Anchorage).

Thursday: Alaska Shootout (St. John’s vs. Gonzaga).

Friday: Preseason NIT final.

Saturday: UNLV at Cincy and the Great Alaska Shootout final.

Monday: Utah at Alabama.

First of 3

Fairleigh Dickinson, (known affectionately to New Jersey alumni as Fairly Ridiculous) was the first Division I team to reach the 0-3 level. FDU, a member of the Northeast Conference, lost to Rutgers in overtime, 70-66.

On the flip side, N.C. State was the first D-1 team to 3-0. The Wolfpack have chalked up wins over Prairie View, San Jose State and East Carolina by an average margin of 30 points.